Wheeler tells legislators incentive auction could extend into 2017

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told a Senate subcommittee that the incentive auction of 600 MHz spectrum may extend into 2017 if it doesn't raise enough to pay broadcasters for the airwaves. The possibility of an extended timeframe is one reason why the FCC is requesting an additional $11 million in federal funds, he said.

The auction, which effectively kicked off last week, actually comprises two separate auctions: An initial one (the reverse auction) in which the government will make deals to buy back the airwaves of TV broadcasters, and a second (the forward auction) that will see that spectrum sold off to mobile service providers with the highest bids. If the forward auction doesn't generate enough money to pay off broadcasters, though, the FCC will start over with a second reverse auction. The process will continue until the government makes enough to offset the costs of the reverse auction. Article